When it was hatched in 1956, the song contest was supposed to be for dueling divas—male and female—from Western European countries, and these singer-representatives would battle it out for a night. Today, Eurovision has become a good platform for undeveloped countries riddled with rusting tractor factories, gold teeth, and unfiltered cigarettes to show that they are, in fact, modern—which is what you want to be if you’re trying to lure investors and tourists. Winning Eurovision, after all, offers a country the chance to host the next year’s contest, allowing the whole Continent to train its spotlight on some place it never thought about.

When it was hatched in 1956, the song contest was supposed to be for dueling divas—male and female—from Western European countries, and these singer-representatives would battle it out for a night. Today, Eurovision has become a good platform for undeveloped countries riddled with rusting tractor factories, gold teeth, and unfiltered cigarettes to show that they are, in fact, modern—which is what you want to be if you’re trying to lure investors and tourists. Winning Eurovision, after all, offers a country the chance to host the next year’s contest, allowing the whole Continent to train its spotlight on some place it never thought about.

Europe's Pop Music Competition

Eurovision
Eurovision

When it was hatched in 1956, the song contest was supposed to be for dueling divas—male and female—from Western European countries, and these singer-representatives would battle it out for a night. Today, Eurovision has become a good platform for undeveloped countries riddled with rusting tractor factories, gold teeth, and unfiltered cigarettes to show that they are, in fact, modern—which is what you want to be if you’re trying to lure investors and tourists. Winning Eurovision, after all, offers a country the chance to host the next year’s contest, allowing the whole Continent to train its spotlight on some place it never thought about.

Dima Bilan
Dima Bilan

In 2008, Russia’s Dima Bilan won over the former Eastern bloc with the inimitable Believe.

Marija Serifovic
Marija Serifovic

2007 marked Serbia’s debut and biggest triumph since overthrowing Milosevic.

Ruslana
Ruslana

Ruslana’s "Wild Dances" (2004) may have led to Ukraine’s Orange Revolution.

Helena Paparizou
Helena Paparizou
Greece had never won until Helena Paparizou came along, in 2005, with "My Number One."
Ell/Nikki
Ell/Nikki
Ell/Nikki’s victory, in May, is offering Azerbaijan a rebranding opportunity.
Alexander Rybak
Alexander Rybak

Norwegian Alexander Rybak, the 2009 winner, was born in Belarus. It was not unnoticed.

Lordi
Lordi

In 2006, Lordi confirmed suspicions that Finns should stick to elk hunting.

Lena Meyer-Landrut
Lena Meyer-Landrut
Germany, in 2010, was the first founding member of Eurovision to win in two decades.
Sertab Erene
Sertab Erene

Sertab Erener’s "Everyway That I Can", in 2003, tried to show that Turkey belongs in the EU.